They were buying in anticipation that prices would go up or that fuel could become scarce..
I'm sure they were, but my point is, when you pay $7300 that it will take a long time to make up that kind of difference. If you're spending $5 a gallon and getting double the gas mileage you previously were getting, You'd have to spend $3750 in gas to just break even. Now, let's say you were getting 25 mpg and now you're getting 50 mpg. It would take about three years to do that for most people. Of course, after three years, you'd be saving money!!
I am still getting 45 mpg without trying to much on my 95 Mazda Protege 5 speed. Clutch is starting to go and may need new struts. I have had it for 8 years now, it only got 37 mpg when i got it but a new throttle body and tune got it to 50 mpg with doing all the hypermilling stuff. I just laugh when i put 5 gallons and go 225+ miles.